Shannon Lee Miller (born March 10, 1977) is a former artistic gymnast from Edmond, Oklahoma. She was the 1993 and 1994 World All-Around Champion, the 1996 Olympics balance beam gold medalist, the 1995 Pan Am Games all-around champion, and a member of the gold medal-winning Magnificent Seven team at the Atlanta Olympics. The winner of a combined total of 16 World Championships and Olympic medals between 1991 and 1996, Miller ranks as the most decorated gymnast, male or female, in U.S. history. Miller was also the most successful American athlete, by medal count, at the 1992 Barcelona Games, winning five altogether. Miller is also the tenth most decorated gymnast of all time, by her individual medal count.
Miller was born in Rolla, Missouri, but she and her family moved to Edmond, Oklahoma when she was only six months old. Miller had studied gymnastics for four years when, at the age of nine, she and her mom traveled to Moscow, Russia to participate in a gymnastics camp. As a twelve-year-old, she finished third at the 1989 Olympic Festival—a competition designed to showcase up-and-coming talent. She traveled to Europe in 1990 and 1991 for international meets and scored two perfect 10.0s on the balance beam at the Swiss Cup and Arthur Gander Memorial. At the 1991 Arthur Gander, she won the All-Around and amassed the highest all-around total ever recorded by an American woman under the traditional 10.0 scale: a 39.875. (Kim Zmeskal had also amassed this same total score at the 1990 USA vs. USSR Challenge.)
At her first World Championships in 1991 in Indianapolis, Miller won two silver medals—in the uneven bars (where she tied with Soviet gymnast Tatiana Gutsu) and the team competition. She placed second in the world during the compulsory portion of the competition to Soviet Svetlana Boguinskaya.
At the 1992 American Cup, Miller fell during her final routine on the floor exercise. Due to injury, Miller missed the 1992 Individual Apparatus World Championships in Paris. Not quite back up to speed with her more difficult maneuvers, she pulled out of the optionals and petitioned to the Olympic Trials. Although the result was controversial, Miller won the trials over her rival and world champion Kim Zmeskal.
Miller won the compulsory portion of the 1992 Olympic Games, and then won the entire individual portion of the team competition, both securing the bronze medal for the US women's gymnastics team and advancing to the All-Around as the number one ranked gymnast in the world. In the 1992 Olympic Games, Miller missed out on the gold by the closest margin in Olympic history: 0.012 points to Unified Team gymnast Tatiana Gutsu. It was believed by her coach, Steve Nunno, she was perhaps robbed of the gold medal by unfair judging. She continued her strong showing in event finals, where she went on to capture three more individual medals: a silver on balance beam and bronze medals on floor and uneven bars. This haul of five Olympic medals was more than that of any other American in any sport in Barcelona. Miller was one of only two female gymnasts, along with Lavinia Miloşovici, to compete in every single event final at the Games and she alone performed all sixteen routines without serious error. Thirteen of her sixteen routines scored a 9.9 or higher, with her lowest score being a 9.837 on the vault in the apparatus finals.
During the next two years, Miller became the first American to win back-to-back World All-Around Championships. During the 1993 world championships, after having qualified on every event in the preliminary round, Miller narrowly defeated Gina Gogean of Romania on balance beam. Olympian and television commentator Kathy Johnson commented at the 1993 World Championships, where Miller won every event in preliminaries, that never had she seen a gymnast so dominant since Nadia Comăneci in 1976. Bart Conner concurred, stating that only if Miller faltered could she be beaten. Following the break-up of the USSR, the athletes from the old Soviet Union had undergone upheaval and most were not ready to mount a sustained challenge at the 1993 World Games. Miller, on the other hand, reworked her routines in order to comply better with the new code. The result in the preliminary round was a victory by over two-tenths margin. She followed her all-around title with golds on bars and floor, but fell three times from the beam. She was forced to withdraw from vault due to illness.
At the 1994 World Championships in Brisbane, Miller again took the all-around title, beating Romanian Lavinia Miloşovici into second place. As in 1993, her performance was strong enough for the gold. She also won the title that had eluded her the previous year, the beam, with a near perfect exercise. It was not until the Goodwill Games in late 1994 that her winning streak ended. Dina Kotchetkova, who finished in third place at the world championships, narrowly defeated Miller 39.325 to 39.268. She rebounded by earning silver medals on the vault and the uneven bars, and gold medals on the balance beam and floor exercise. She missed winning medals in the women's team competition and the mixed team competition, where she, along with her teammates, placed 4th in both categories. Two weeks later, she would compete at the 1994 U.S. National Championships, where she won five silver medals, each time placing second to Dominique Dawes.
Although she won the 1995 American Classic, Miller lost the 1995 National Championships to thirteen-year-old Dominique Moceanu. Coming into the 1995 World Championships, she amassed the highest total of the entire American team. Although she had won five individual gold medals in the last two World Championships, she walked away from Sabae without a single individual medal. Here she would take seventh place on the uneven bars and fourth place on the balance beam, after having to withdraw from both the vault and the floor exercise due to injury.
Although struggling with severe tendinitis in her left wrist and a pulled hamstring injury, Miller won the 1996 National Championships. Once again though, she was forced to sit out the Individual Apparatus World Championship in the Olympic year due to injury, and later the Olympic trials. She was able to petition onto the American team as the top performer, and the injury was sufficiently recovered by July to allow Miller to compete in her second Olympics. Miller led the American team to victory as the Magnificent Seven, the 1996 Olympic gold medal winning American team, defeated the Russians for the first time ever. Miller got chalk dust in her eye following warm-up in the first rotation, which could have been a disaster and led to a possible fall if the condition worsened. Kerri Strug garnered the majority of the media attention following her vault performance, where she heroically injured her left foot on the second vault, which forced her to withdraw from the all-around and event finals. But Miller, who was the team's highest scorer, individually placed 2nd during the compulsories and 2nd after the team competition behind the Olympic All-Around Champion, Lilia Podkopayeva. This performance qualified Miller for her second Olympic all-around competition.
In the All-Around, Miller placed second halfway through the competition. In her final performance in Olympic competition, Miller managed an eighth-place finish, making her the highest ranking American in that competition. She also became the first American to win the balance beam at the Olympics as well as the first United States woman to win an individual gold medal at a non-boycotted Olympics and the first to win any individual apparatus in a non-boycotted Olympics. Miller concluded her career with seven Olympic medals. During most of her career she was coached by Steve Nunno and Peggy Liddick, now National Coach of the Australian Women's Gymnastics Team.
Following the Olympics, Miller and her teammates participated in a 100-city tour and several exhibition competitions. She competed in her final world-class meet in 1997, when she won the all-around title at that year's World University Games. In 2000 Miller made a brief comeback attempt for the Sydney Olympics. She competed in the Olympic Trials, but after a fall on vault decided to scratch from the competition despite being cleared by a doctor to continue.
Her accomplishments in the sport of gymnastics have won her several major honors. She has been named to USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame, the US Olympic Hall of Fame, the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame and the Women's International Sports Hall of Fame.
Miller is the only woman, in any sport, to be inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame twice, as an individual and for her team. With seven Olympic and nine World Championship medals, Miller is one of the most decorated United States gymnasts, male or female. Miller is currently tied with Nastia Liukin as the gymnast who has won the third most World Championship medals (9) for the United States (behind Alicia Sacramone (10) and Simone Biles (14)).
In 2003, she graduated from the University of Houston with a B.B.A. in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. Later that year she entered Boston College Law School and graduated in 2007. Miller opted not to take the Bar Exam in any state. She moved to Florida where she made appearances at gyms, conducting beam clinics, and starring in workout DVDs.
Miller married lawyer and ophthalmologist Christopher B. Phillips in June 1999. The couple separated in 2004; their divorce was finalized in 2006. While Phillips accused Miller of infidelity with a married male athlete, the charge was denied by Miller and did not figure into the divorce grounds.
In August 2007, Miller announced her engagement to John Falconetti, the 39-year-old President of Drummond Press and past chairman of the Duval County, Florida Republican executive committee. The couple married on August 25, 2008, and have one son, Rocco.
In February 2011, Miller revealed she had been diagnosed with germ cell ovarian cancer, a month after doctors removed a baseball-sized cyst from one of her ovaries. Miller underwent three cycles of chemotherapy from March 7 to May 2, 2011. In September 2011, her doctor gave her a clean bill of health.
On October 21, 2015 Miller entered a new business partnership with Juice Plus. A branded line of dietary supplements, in where she will share personal insights in support of the brand’s mission through blogging and speaking engagements.
Miller is currently President of Shannon Miller Lifestyle: Health and Fitness for Women, and President of the Shannon Miller Foundation, dedicated to fighting childhood obesity.
Her autobiography, It's Not About Perfect: Competing for My Country and Fighting for My Life, was published in 2015 by St. Martin's Press.
|1988||U.S. Classic (junior)||2nd|
|1989||U.S. Classic (junior)||1st|
|U.S. Olympic Festival||3rd|
|Swiss Cup Zürich||1st|
|Arthur Gander Memorial||1st|
|International Mixed Pairs||1st|
|Team World Championships||2nd|
|1997||International Mixed Pairs||3rd|